SAP extends cloud vision with ‘modernized’ form & functions

Cloud is modern. By its very nature, we know that cloud computing and the all wider disciplines related to the Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) computing form a key part of our contemporary approach to modernized enterprise software application delivery and data services.

But despite this core fact, there is scope to talk about so-called ‘modern cloud’ and the way vendors in this space are now extending their platforms, suites, services and data fabric layers.

German softwarehaus SAP is firmly among those firms pushing to showcase modernized cloud functions. The company used its SAP Sapphire user event this May in Orlando, Florida to explain how its innovations in SAP Analytics Cloud are currently developing to offer an integrated solution featuring analytics and planning capabilities that simplify analytics for customers and enable more data-driven decision-making.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Following the trend to develop richer AI services throughout all enterprise software platforms, SAP now says that it has developed AI-driven analytics which uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology from Askdata (which SAP acquired in 2022). This technology is now integrated into SAP Analytics Cloud.

The AI technology behind the search experiences provided by this service are intended to provide better natural multilingual processing than previous technology based only on English-language keywords. Users can access the new feature enabling natural-language queries from their home page and will be able to visualize their query results in tables. Also here, let’s note that the use of Large Language Models (LLM) improves the accuracy and consistency of answers compared to existing search-driven offerings. 

SAP says it plans to unveil more conversational, chatbot-like interaction capabilities in the third quarter of 2023, allowing users to receive query results from traditional databases augmented by certified knowledge material.

“SAP has simplified the development, testing and management of interconnected planning workflow tasks and processes to streamline planning scenarios. New application programming interfaces, enhanced data imports and additional predictive model quality indicators increase customers’ productivity and help them save time during planning processes,” detailed the company, in a press statement.


No SAP platform (okay, let’s say ‘stack’, there are a cornucopia of functions here, some of which come from SAP in-house development, but many of which come from acquisitions) update would be complete with SAP HANA, so what’s new?

This year we now learn that the company has come forward with three new categories of innovations for SAP HANA Cloud that deliver capabilities for what the company calls ‘intelligent data applications’ no less. Multi-model data processing and embedded machine learning provide users of applications running on SAP HANA Cloud with transformational insights to improve business decisions.  

A flexible core-to-memory ratio was made available in the first quarter of 2023 and provides flexibility in the mix of virtual CPUs and memory capacity to improve price performance and lower the total cost of ownership. Customers of SAP HANA Cloud will be able to tailor system configurations to better suit their workload and avoid overprovisioning of resources while maximizing performance. 

Multimodel enhancements support additional innovative application scenarios with increased capabilities in a single data platform. Customers can perform graph processing with GraphScript (planned for Q3 2023) on the document store. New spatial functions (planned for Q2 2023) allow for further spatial calculations as well as validation of invalid geometries, also planned for the second quarter of 2023. 

Machine learning advancements include automated machine learning (autoML) pipeline and time-series classification. These new features, made available in the first quarter of 2023, expand the scope and accelerate the adoption of embedded Machine Learning (ML) scenarios.

“We’re also announcing a host of new ERP capabilities to shore up customers’ resilience, from new tools to boost digital transformations in the cloud to enhanced service options for cloud customers. Innovations from SAP and our partner ecosystem, now easier to access for customers worldwide, give enterprises the tools they need to tackle the future with confidence,” said SAP, in a press statement.

Fingers, toes, count ‘em up

In a newsreel that rivalled any major tech event (and required toes as well as fingers to count up the number of product announcements) SAP also announced a combined solution strategy so customers can deliver products as a service, mobilize resources for efficient delivery and extend equipment life (which, let’s remember, reduces environmental impact) with proactive service management solutions that support end-to-end processes. 

This complete suite of cross-portfolio solutions from SAP includes SAP Service Cloud, SAP S/4HANA Service, SAP Field Service Management, SAP Crowd Service, SAP Service and Asset Manager and SAP Asset Performance Management. Customers can enable new business models, operational precision and equipment performance.  

Innovations here include new integrations for end-to-end service processes across SAP’s service management suite – and new field service management capabilities, such as mobile augmented reality for remote equipment diagnostics, including visual work instructions and AI for predictive traffic route scheduling.

We also see SAP detail new capabilities to monitor the condition of customers’ equipment, including IoT and to automate predictive service processes

SAP solutions help meet and exceed customer expectations by providing a single agent desktop with a 360-degree view of customers, efficient ticketing and case management and embedded knowledge management. AI-enabled service intelligence helps automate ticket categorization and routing and supports agents with automated recommendations for faster problem resolution,” stated SAP, in an Orlando keynote.

Overall look & feel

Over here, there’s been a pandemic (did you notice?) and it’s been a while since we’ve been able to attend an SAP Sapphire. So then, has SAP changed much, is the show the same, are the news announcements styled with what we might expect and has SAP become a different company in some ways?

The simple answer is: this is the same SAP, but perhaps more so.

As an event, SAP Sapphire is as massive as ever (although it feels like it takes longer to get across the show floor for some reason) and the news stream has been bigger than ever, which is probably inevitable in this first post-pandemic In Real Life (IRL) iteration of the show. Not quite as techy as an SAP TechEd for obvious reasons, SAP Sapphire has all the gloss (and sharp suits) of the more customer-end event that it is. SAP HANA and the company’s cloud estate was paraded with full military honors and the enhancements and augmentations (some of which are tabled here) are comprehensive and fall in line with what we would expect SAP to showcase for an annual gathering of this kind.

SAP even added generative AI to its platform via its work with key platform partner Microsoft, do you know an enterprise software company that hasn’t? There’s even been a new focus on sustainability, so pretty much all the boxes have been checked. SAP’s cloud-centric technology proposition has indeed been modernized and the company is (arguably) at the vanguard of many current developments. 

There was even ‘tandoori tofu tikka’ in the press room, but please SAP, be more German next year and sort out a few sausages – Vielen Dank für die Würstchen und den Senf im Voraus.